Today marks World Environment Day and a perfect opportunity to talk to Carol Cox, Managing Director of OSO Environmental regarding plastic recycling and getting thoughts from OSO on this subject.
In 2019, Comply Direct invested in a plastic recycling facility and accredited re-processor based in Leeds, to support UK re-processing for the benefit of our members. These are sister companies OSO Polymers and OSO Environmental, whom together are an ambitious, Environment Agency accredited secondary waste material sourcing facility. OSO Polymers process and convert plastic waste whilst OSO Environmental receive, store and monitor the movement of the waste, whether that be to support the factory or support other plastic processing companies in the UK or overseas.
Melanie Harper interview's Carol:
Which plastics are you able to recycle which can’t normally be put in household recycling? Please can you give me examples of items?
Now there is a question - The plastics materials that can be recycled depends on the waste management companies that support the local councils with household recycling.
Certain areas within the UK can recycle Tubs, Lids and Pots, for example, and potentially in the next town they cannot due to where the material is to be processed. Another example shows LDPE (carrier bag material) that can be recycled in a certain postcode area as the waste management company has invested in the machinery and process to enable them to pull this type of material out of the process. The same material, in a different postcode, that is being sent to a different waste management company may not have the capability to pull this type of material out of the waste stream so the local council will be advised that these types of materials can not be put into the recycling stream.
Here at OSO we take all LDPE recycled waste and are willing to work with the councils and waste management companies. Over these last 12 months we have worked with several local councils to try and improve the percentage of household waste that can be recycled rather than being sent to landfill or incineration.
How do you sort what can be recycled from what can’t be recycled?
Here at OSO we handpick the material, as much as we can, before the material goes through further processing through our machinery. There are elements of our process which will separate the different polymers and remove the contamination needed to re-process the LDPE.
Do you think recycling labels in the UK are confusing?
The labels stating that the materials are recyclable, on consumer packaging for example, are very confusing. Certain materials are recyclable but it is the infrastructure of the recycling process that dictates what is classed as recyclable. Which is why some packaging states that it is widely recycled and/or to check with local recycling.
Have you experienced any issues with being sent the wrong/contaminated plastics for recycling?
Yes quite often but it’s a matter of working with the supplier to understand how the non-target materials can be eliminated going forward. Since Covid-19 we have seen a decrease in the quality of the materials as there has been limited amount of staff and resource within the recycling industry at this time.
Can you explain the process behind how plastics are recycled?
You and me - A consumer will buy a product from a supermarket/shop, the packaging gets used, is cleaned and is deposited in your recycling bin at home. The waste is collected by your council and then is transferred to a recycling centre. At the recycling centre the materials are segregated into categories and is then sent to another recycling company to be reprocessed.
For OSO we source the material from the waste management companies (as above) or we buy materials that have been used by manufacturing companies.
Once received the materials are inspected to make sure they are within the specification they then go through the reprocessing process on site
Once they are recycled, what sort of things are they made into/can they be used for?
Depending on the grade of recycled pellets we manufacture then there is a whole range of manufacturing processes that the material can be used for.
For example - Online retail bags, black bin liners, blown film bags, profile extruded plastic decking, furniture and pipe manufacture.
How many times can the plastics be recycled?
Not an easy question to answer I am afraid. Certain plastic needs to be of a certain strength so really depends on what the application is.
The more a plastic is recycled the weaker, potentially, it will become which means that as it is being manufactured there is a need to ‘sweeten’ the blend of materials to give the plastic the correct properties for the application.
Do you think the UK will be ready for the proposed plastics tax by April 2022?
There has been a lot of interest regarding recycled pellets from UK manufacturers. There is a definite want to find a solution to get a certain amount of recycle content within the manufacturing process – it really depends on the base polymer.
For example the PET packaging market have been using more than 50% recycled content within the manufacturing process for 5-10 years plus! But for thin wall injection moulded product using a recycled material maybe a little tricky. This is where the re-processors and the manufacturing companies need to pull together.
How can businesses prepare themselves for the introduction of the plastics tax?
Align with their suppliers. They need to find a recycling company they can trust and give details of physically where materials have come from. We have had manufacturing companies request samples so they are able to complete trials in preparation to start running within their production process.
How can people get in touch with you if they wanted to send plastic to your facility for recycling?
Please give us a call on 0113 246 4883 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org and we would be more than happy to chat with you. You can also visit our websites https://www.osoenvironmental.com/ and https://osopolymers.com/ and you can find us on LinkedIn
Thank you to Carol and her team for taking the time to talk to us on World Environment Day
Offering a plastic waste recovery service and closed-loop recycling solutions, companies can take advantage of OSO's capabilities to help achieve their company's environmental business goals in terms of waste plastic, and contribute to increasing the UK's plastic recycling levels.